Arcade Fire performing in Indio, Calif. (Coachella)
Stick a fork in it kids, it’s done. Weekend 1 came and passed and the wide consensus from anyone that showed up is that this year’s Coachella was one damn good Chella. The security lines went fast, traffic wasn’t a big issue, no technical problems or admission snafus. There were more food options, more beer options, The Do Lab was bigger and the Yuma was bigger. The Gobi got a serious makeover complete with a black ceiling, curtains, and chandeliers.
Still off put by the mediocre lineup from last year’s festival, fans were expecting an experience that was, let’s just say better than last year. Presumably aware of the challenge, Goldenvoice stepped up their game and delivered.
Celebrity guest performances were the name of the game this year. Although there were definitely a few acts that definitely commanded attention even without someone famous hopping on stage. We can talk for days about how all of the different performances went. But rather than do that, why don’t we just stick to the highlights.
Outkast was the talk of the town all day on Friday, and the whole day after for that matter. The show was so much fun. Andre and Big Boi opened with B.O.B. and then killed it with their collection of undeniable jams that span both decades and genres. They also played a lot of their heavier hip hop tracks from back in the day, which was a real treat for long time fans of the group. It was a dance fest, a sing along, and a chance for the world to re-welcome the Outkast back on to the mainstream music scene.
That being said, there were a few weird things that happened in that Outkast set. For one thing, they brought out Future for a few tracks, which just seemed underwhelming. Then there was the part where Andre 3000 turned his back to the crowd for the entirety of the first verse of “Hey Ya.” We could all tell he’s still pretty sick of the song, and would rather not perform it. It kind of made the set’s closing just a little bit awkward. Right after ‘Hey Ya,’ the clocked tolled 1:00 and the powers that be shut off the sound before the group had a chance to bring out Killer Mike out for “The Whole World.”
Other standouts on Friday included Shlohmo who put together and entrancing set with an ill stage setup that repped LA’s “We Did It” collective right proper. HAIM rocked the Outdoor Theater and reminisced about how they used to sneak into Coachella when they were growing up. Flatbush Zombies, especially after Friday’s performance, are gonna blow up soon. Bonobo was magic. Woodkid was damn impressive. And Flume, was arguably one of the best performances of the entire weekend.
Pharrel Williams was the big winner on Saturday with a different special guest for almost every song. Nelly came out for ‘Hot in Here’. Snoop came out for ‘Drop it Like It’s Hot.’ P. Diddy and Busta Rhyme came out for ‘Pass the Courvoisier Part II’. Diplo came out for Aerosol Can and Gwen freaking Stefani came out to for ‘Hollaback Girl’. The performance itself was captivating. It’s Pharrel after all. But the crowd missed out on the full extent of what the guy can do vocally. The winds were heavy that night, and they kicked up so much dust that Pharrel’s throat kept getting coated. Mr. Williams apologized and promised that he would get it together for Weekend 2.
The conflict between Nas, Muse, and Skrillex was a tough one when the evening wound down on Saturday. If you timed it right, you could maybe walk through the Mojave at the right time to hear Pet Shop Boys do ‘West End Girls.’ Muse sounded amazing. The sound that band produces, for being three people, is massive. Skrillex ripped the roof off of the Sahara and brought out A$AP Rocky to help him do it. But the place to be at the end of the night was back at the Outdoor Theater for Nas.
Another prodigal hip hop act returning to the stage for the first time in years, Nas threw down with a set that never seemed to lose its energy. Jay Z came out for ‘Dead Presidents’ and ‘Where I’m From.’ P Diddy came out at the end of the set to give Nas a bit of love for his first show back.
Other standouts on Saturday included Lorde, Future Islands and Banks. Fatboy Slim had the best visuals of the weekend. Kid Cudi was just what you needed on a Saturday afternoon. RL Grime’s set was absolutely filthy. ChVrches’ set was clean and crisp, their stage presence bubbly, eccentric, and oh so British. Hardly anyone saw Mogwai, but those who weren’t there missed out.
Ok, so Justin Beiber came out for like 30 seconds to do a song with Chance the Rapper. That’s it. It was random. It happened in the middle of the afternoon. And it wasn’t really that cool. Chance was still sick though.
Choosing between Arcade Fire and Disclosure to close out the show was a tough one. If you chose neither, and rather strapped on your clown shoes to spend the rest of your evening at Duck Sauce, then I’m sorry, but you have zero taste in music.
Disclosure was something to talk about the next day. Sam Smith came out for ‘Latch’ and Mary J. Blige came out for ‘F for You.’ Their sound was album quality and their lighting was mesmerizing. It was psychedelic, and yet tasteful.
Arcade Fire was such a good choice for Sunday’s headliner. They played a no frills set of both classics and new tracks in a performance that was nothing short of incredible. They brought out Deborah Harry from Blondie to perform ‘Heart of Glass,’ but that was their only guest. This show, was about the music.
At the end of the set, they blew the audience’s hair back with ‘Wake Up.’ Timed so that the sound would be cut out midway through the song, Arcade Fire took their instruments off the stage and kept the audience singing as they played on while walking down the photographers’ aisle in the middle of the floor.
If you were close enough you could hear the music. If you weren’t that lucky, you could just hear whole crowd singing together in near darkness, surrounded by palm trees and red mountains, as warm winds moved swiftly through the whole scene. It was pretty beautiful if I must say so myself, a very serendipitous way to end the weekend.
Other highlights on Saturday included Lana Del Rey, Calvin Harris, and Beck. Beck played a good mix of old school jams and instant classics from his new record. Calvin Harris is the perfect mix of fun and dreamy for a Sunday night set. Lana Del Rey is out of this world. Flosstradamus was nuts. Little Dragon was… OK. Slash played Ace of Spades with Motorhead.
I’ll say it again. It was a good Chella. Right now is about the time for Weekend 2 Warriors to start getting excited. The Herculean 2 Weekend Warriors are still in Indio prepping themselves to do it all again starting Thursday night. The staff here at LoL is all partied out. We won’t be out there, but we know plenty of people who will be. If you are getting ready to head out this weekend, you should start planning your days out now. That lineup is stacked, and you’re gonna be running around like a crazy person trying to catch everything.